Through anthems of revolution and swaying lullabyes about love, Bob Marley rose from Third World poverty and gave a voice to under-represented people the world over. He took the Jamaican rhythm known as rocksteady and, with the members of the Wailers, created reggae, which would eventually blossom as a musical flavor in the U.S., Africa, Asia and Brazil.
A Rastafarian who died of cancer in 1981 at 36, Marley’s music had an international reach far beyond any popular music act in the rock era. Politically and culturally groundbreaking works “Exodus,” “Rastaman Vibration” and “Natty Dread” resonated with audiences in England and Ethiopia, Bahia and Boston; his voice worked as a call for justice or simply to have a party. And despite his popularity, he never diluted his message.